Closet Case Charlie Caftan – a muslin


This was interesting – and it took me 3 days to do it. For a pattern designed for ‘advanced beginner’, this is a bit of a beastie… More on that in a minute, first a look at the pattern:

line art

Really cute, with nice options. View A features front pleats, but it doesn’t interest me at all. Views B and C are the ones that got my attention.

For my muslin, I went with View B, size 10. It has the higher sleeve, no ties, and shorter length.


The shape is very simple, pretty much straight up and down from sleeve to hem.


Changes I made to the pattern:

  • First, I redrafted the sleeve. I could tell that the downward slant on top, and the tight curve at the bottom, were iffy. The former because it would impede upward movement of the arms and lift the entire dress in the process. The latter, the curve, because it would be difficult to ‘uncrinkle’ and finish nicely.

    I used the bodice from the Serendipity Studio Diane kimono dress to change both areas (my lines are in blue). I also left off the sleeve hem allowance completely, since I wanted to bind the edge, not hem it.

Drafting - sleeve

I love the result – it’s so comfortable.


  • My second change was to decrease the width of the area to be gathered by 2″. The original ratio of gathers to front panel was 2:1. IMHO, way too much, and likely to pouf out. I don’t need pouf!


  • I also drafted a smaller pocket. I wanted to topstitch mine to the front, and the original pocket was huge – it would have interfered with the drape of the front gathers.
  • And I added 2″ to the length.

Now, changes I made to the construction of the dress. As background, that front panel is meant to be inserted into the front, much as a single welt is inserted for a pocket. Except that all 4 sides of the panel have to be sewn in. Oh my gosh, I never even considered doing it that way.

  • I used a slit in the panel area, instead of the 1/4″ wide cutout in the pattern.

Drafting - front slit

  • I gathered the area under the slits, and fused a 1″ wide strip of interfacing over the whole shebang to stabilize it.

slit 1

  • Next, I basted the panel facing in place in the inside,

slit 2

  • And the front panel on the outside. Made a sandwich!

slit 3

Topstitched to finish, and I really like how it came together. The edges are straight and I didn’t pull my hair out.

I’m considering bringing the front panel in by about 1″ on a future make. I can see how the current width would work well with ties, but without them, it just looks a little too wide. Maybe I’ll just use the panel from View A.


Thoughts: a nice summer dress, a little different, and well-suited for many fabrics and prints. However – that construction business with the front panel is not so nice. The impression I get from the reviews I’ve read (there are only a few, it’s a very new pattern), is that no one is finding it easy to get that panel sewn in properly.

Now that I have a pattern and approach that work for me, I’m sure I’ll sew this again, both long and short. Meanwhile, I’m curious about other sewists’ experiences with the pattern…

Bye for now – Coco

McCalls 6966 Maxi Skirt – easy dressing…




Oh, it was so nice to sew this skirt! I love maxi’s, so this project felt like coming home.

I bought this pattern ages ago, and I’ve never sewn it. Mostly because I was simply drafting my knit maxi skirts as an A-line with a yoga waistband. Like this one from a couple years ago (worn with Kathryn Brenne’s beautiful jacket, V9135):

Vogue 9135 - Kathryn Brenne jacket

But my earlier skirts were showing wear and are now gone. M6966 has lots of options, including the hi-lo look that’s so trendy this summer.

Time to give it a try. It’s pretty cute!


Sewing notes – this is very easy to sew:

  • I used size Medium, without a single change.
  • My fabric is a very loosely woven cotton French terry from Girl Charlee.
  • The length was perfect for me at 5’7″. In fact, I took off 1″ before taking up a 1″ hem.
  • This skirt is very similar, in shape and sizing, to the the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, which is for woven fabrics and has a zipper.

I love the waistband construction. It stays up a bit better than a yoga band, and it’s very nicely finished.

(1) The outside waistband and facing are joined at the top edge, right sides together. A line of stitching about an inch below forms a casing for elastic.

(2) The elastic is inserted, and the band is turned with right sides out – the elastic is hidden!

(3) And the band is attached to the top of the skirt. I sewed it on with an elastic stitch and serged the seam allowance together to give a nice finish.


I took my pics in the dining room this morning, so I could go back and forth to my closet for options to style the skirt. I tried a cropped shirt, a belted tunic, and a jeans jacket (which is why I was wearing the white bra that’s peeking out on my shoulder). Of course, I ended up liking a simple knit tee the best.



Parting shot – since the mosquitoes rule the yard for the moment, I’m doing a little gardening on the porch. These skinny dudes are papaya sprouts, grown from seeds I harvested from a fresh papaya way back in January. If I can get them up to about 20″, they’ll go in the back garden.


I’ve had papaya trees before, and the wasps really enjoyed the fruit – they’re fast.

Bye for now – Coco

Named – Reeta Shirtdress ho hum


No head and not happy. I don’t know why I keep sewing shirt dress designs. Wishful thinking. I don’t even like collars. But here I am again, so I’ll try to give a balanced review.

I love the promise…

line art

But it just didn’t work. The silhouette is nice, I even like it without any cinching at the waistline. In the first pic, however, I’ve use an self-fabric belt (from Vogue 8807).


I’m not a fan of drawstrings and so on, and this little belt is a nice option. Easy to do. Without any belt…



But –  I just don’t like the design on me.

Moving on to the pattern. It’s a bit of a beast, because the collar is totally wonky. I’m being generous. This is the worst collar/neckline drafting I’ve ever encountered.

I’m really good at sewing! but the collar and neckline just did not want to meet. I was working with high-thread count poplin, but, frankly – horrible drafting. I really tried, lots of pins, and it just didn’t work. To make me feel better, all 4 of the reviews I read mentioned issues with this CRITICAL area. Attaching the collar to the neckline. The pic below is hardly suggestive of the impossibility of sewing the collar into the neckline AND the facing.


I ended up trimming the neckline at the front and drafting a completely new collar. I have little patience for poor drafting and would just as soon try to save a garment with something else.

My collar:

new collar 1

Being a little discouraged, and looking for some fun, I drew a curved edge to my collar to offset the pointed lapel. Cute, right?

new collar 2

And my own collar and neckline worked just fine.

Sewing notes:

  • I drafted the size 42. It worked up to be somewhere between a size 12 and size 14 in Big Four sizing. It’s a little big on me across the  back, but it’s pretty comfortable. I think a size 40 would have been too small.
  • I started with the recommended 4 yards of 44″ wide fabric. And shortened my front and back by 8 1/2″. I could not have done the full midi-length in the suggested yardage.
  • I drew the sleeves to the pattern, but I did not do the double-up sewed-in-cuff view. And I ended up cutting off several inches and doing a 1.25″ hem at elbow length.
  • I added in-seam pockets. It blows my mind that this pattern doesn’t have pockets.


  • Mine are attached 3″ below the waistline, and to make them really comfortable, they’re topstitched to the front. No waving pockets please…

Nonetheless, I’m ditching this pattern and moving on. Summer is here, replete with rain, mosquitoes, and lots of opportunity for fun lightweight garments.

Lights out on this one!


Parting thought: I’m sick of black and white and grey! Forget about the advice on colors for grey hair. I’m going back to exuberant color and patterns. The alternative is just not me!

Ciao! Coco


McCalls 7597 Kaftan – a complete muslin


Complete because I did it with and without sleeves.

Fran, this is for you 🙂

I’ve been wanting to be in love with this pattern, so I ditched my knit fabric muslin and sewed it in a woven – in fact, in muslin.


As a lover of tunics, and an admirer of really well-done kaftans, I snapped up this pattern just after its release. I looked all over the web, and I’ve found no reviews or pics. So – here we go!

My first focus was on the front bib insert, on both my knit attempt and on this one – on how it’s constructed and finished (because I’m picky). The pattern does not disappoint.

Inside and outside views – very nice. My muslin is a very high-thread count muslin from JoAnns.  It’s actually more like poplin, very stiff, so I didn’t use any interfacing. But I think the high neckline slit calls for interfacing in most fabrics to support the neckline.


The pattern instructions would have one (1) sew the sides of the bib into the bodice, (2) clip the corner turn, and (3) sew across the gathered bodice and bib edge. But I am not a fan. I sewed the sides of the bib into the bodice, and simply folded the bottom edge of the bib over the the gathered bodice. And topstitched. Much much easier.

Stay sane, peeps!


Having conquered the front, I also had concerns that the gathers in the back, under the yoke, might be too much. But the back is pretty! And the sides have just enough curve in them to give a nice silhouette.


Aaargh…I just had to stop typing and go to my laptop settings. I got the Microsoft 10 Creator update this morning, which took 3.5 hours and changed a bunch of settings, including my touchpad. I don’t use the touchpad, but I kept touching it with my palm as I typed. This post got a little wonky for a while…

But I’m back.

Here’s another view of the back, moving my arm a bit. It’s very comfortable and fits well.

back 2

Sewing notes:

  • To start, I’m 5’7″, and have a 34″ bust. I sewed size 12.
  • With no changes!
  • Other than my usual adjustment for a sloping shoulder on my right side. Without the latter, necklines and jacket hems do not match up. It worked fine on this pattern – whew. You never know until you do it…
  • I used the cutting line from View C, which has an added contrast band that I didn’t use. I just wanted the extra length. It’s easier to cut off than to add on!
  • My finished back length on this version is 32 1/2″, which is super nice with leggings.
  • The sleeves are cut at the longest length ( which is not full length – if you want a full-length sleeve, be sure to measure and add to the sleeve).
  • I used a 1 3/4″ hem allowance on the sleeve, finishing with a 9.5″ underarm seam.
  • A note – I have an 11″ bicep, and the sleeve is comfortable on me, but you can see that they are not generously wide.
  • I sewed the sleeve in flat, because I never sew a set-in sleeve unless I have to do it!
  • For this muslin, I trimmed the seam allowance off the sleeveless side to get a true view of a sleeveless version. The pattern uses the same armscye for sleeveless and sleeves makes, so it’s good to see how both work. I think the sleeveless armscye falls just where I’d want it.

Last view with my sewing buddy…


Parting thoughts – this is a great little pattern. The drafting is well-balanced, the pattern pieces fit together perfectly, and it was fun to sew. I even like the high neckline! and I usually go for v-neck and scoop-neck designs. The pattern might not be for beginning sewists, given the insert and sleeves. It’s such a new pattern, I’m happy to help out with any questions and so on if you’re thinking of sewing it.

Last week, before I sewed this muslin, and with crossed fingers, I purchased fabric for a maxi length version, including 3/8″ wide trim for the front insert. Five 1/2 yards – that’s a lot of fabric, but I think it will be really pretty.

fabric and trim

It’s Friday – I hope everyone enjoys a very nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

Another dress re-fashion…and coffee


Well, I seem to be spending a lot of time recycling things that no longer fit. It’s very satisfying!

This was originally a Vogue 1297 Sandra Betzina dress. And I loved it. But it was simply too big by the end of May.


The remake is a simple bodice (Kwik Sew 3873) and lightly gathered A-line skirt. It’s the same approach I took with my Valentines dress (here).



Happy woman…


Now, about coffee. I’ve discovered cold brew coffee and really enjoy it in the afternoon with a little fat-free milk. It’s so expensive in stores, I suppose because it’s trendy right now. Umm. It’s just cold water and coffee, easy peasy to make at home.

I use my Riklig teapot from IKEA (the infuser is perfect for holding the coffee grounds), medium-grind coffee, and cold water from the faucet. And simply let it ‘steep’ for about 12 hours.


Then I strain it into a jug, using a fabric colador. The latter traps any residue suspended in the coffee or lurking on the bottom of the pot. This step is not required, I just think it makes sense.

It’s great – a little different, and delicious over ice or with milk.

End of my cooking tale. It’s a good reflection of my kitchen aspirations, because I seldom cook unless someone’s visiting. I consider the microwave to be one of the premier inventions of the 20th century:-)

Ciao! Coco